Maxwell Air Force Base , officially known as Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, is a United States Air Force (USAF) installation under the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The installation is located in Montgomery, Alabama, US.
Under Air University are three principal schools that provide various levels of Joint Professional Military Education (JPME). The first is Squadron Officer School (SOS), a nearly 2 month program oriented towards First Lieutenants and Captains in the Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. The second, Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) is a year long program for Air Force officers (to include Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard), Department of Defense civil servants in the grade of GS-13, as well as select officers from other U.S. and Allied armed forces in the rank of Major, Lieutenant Commander, Squadron Leader or equivalent. ACSC is considered "intermediate" level JPME. The third program, Air War College (AWC) is also a year long program and selects students from the same sources as ACSC, but the minimum rank for attendance rises to Lieutenant Colonel, Commander, Wing Commander or equivalent or DoD civil servants in the grade of GS-14. AWC is considered "senior" level JPME.
In addition to the in-residence programs at Maxwell, all three programs are availble in correspondence/distance learning formats, while ACSC and AWC are also available in seminar formats at select USAF installations world-wide.
Maxwell AFB also hosts the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools (AFOATS), which has oversight for two of the Air Force's three officer commissioning programs, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC), which is headquartered at Maxwell and Air Force Officer Training School (OTS), which is headquartered and conducted at Maxwell AFB, having relocated from Lackland AFB, Texas in the 1990s. Capitalizing on the new facilities built for OTS in the 1990s, in 2008 Maxwell also became the only base hosting the annual summer Field Training (FT) encampments for college AFROTC cadets that they must attend before commencing their junior year of college. The Civil Air Patrol's corporate and joint CAP-USAF headquarters is also located at Maxwell.
The only operational flying unit at Maxwell is the Air Force Reserve Command's 908th Airlift Wing (908 AW) and subordinate 357th Airlift Squadron (357 AS), which operates eight C-130H aircraft. As an AFRC airlift unit, the 908th is operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC).
Gunter Annex is a separate installation under the claimancy of Maxwell AFB. Originally known as Gunter Field, it later became known as Gunter Air Force Station (Gunter AFS) when its runways were closed and its operational flying activity eliminated. As a hedge against future BRAC closure action, Gunter was consolidated under Maxwell AFB to create a combined installation known as Maxwell/Gunter.
The field served as a repair depot during World War I. In fact, the depot built the first plane made in Montgomery and exhibited it at the field on 20 September 1918. Repair activity at the depot was sharply curtailed at the end of the war. The field went through several name changes; but, finally, on 8 November 1922, the War Department redesignated the depot as Maxwell Field. The depot's first official flying mission was carried out after that. Observation missions originated there in 1927–1929. Pilots from the field were also involved in completing the first leg of a test designed to establish an airmail route between the Gulf Coast and the northern Great Lakes area. The successful test played a major role in the eventual establishment of permanent airmail service in the Southeast.
In March 1929, personnel at Maxwell provided flood relief to citizens of Montgomery. This was the first time at which food and supplies were airdropped by U.S. military forces during a major civilian emergency. The depot was chosen as the new location for the Air Corps Tactical School in 1929, with the school transferring from Langley Field, Virginia, after completion of construction, opening 15 July 1931. The school evolved into the Air Force's first tactical center until the imminence of American involvement in World War II forced a suspension of classes in June 1940 that resulted in permanent closure of the school.
One of the school's notable achievements was its development of two aerial acrobatic teams: the "Three Men on a Flying Trapeze", put together by then-Captain Claire L. Chennault in 1932, and the Skylarks in 1935. In 1940, it was announced that the installation was to be converted into a pilot-training center. During following years, Maxwell was home to six different schools that trained U.S. military aviators and their support teams for wartime service. As World War II progressed, the number of required pilot trainees declined, and the Army Air Forces decided not to send more aircrew trainees to Maxwell Field. However, in July 1943, the Army Air Forces announced a specialized school for pilots of four-engine aircraft. The first B-24 Liberator landed at the field later that month. In early 1945, B-29 Superfortress bomber training replaced the B-24 program.
Air University, an institution providing continuing military education for Air Force personnel, was established at Maxwell in 1946, prior to the Air Force becoming an independent service. Today, it remains the main focus of base activities. In 1992, the 3800th Air Base Wing was disbanded and the 502nd Air Base Wing took over as the host wing, which two years later gave way to the current 42nd Air Base Wing.